C2 and Leadership

“Understanding Command and Control (C2) is no longer an option; it is a requirement. If we want to make significant progress on Defence transformation or succeed in 21st century operations we need to understand Command and Control thoroughly.” - Dr. David S. Alberts, Director of Research, US DoD Command and Control Research Program

Foto: Forsvaret.dk

In the spring of 2008 a new academic research platform “Command and Control (C2) and Leadership” was established under the Institute for Leadership and Organization (ILO), at the Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC). This would bring it in line with many other Defence Colleges and research programs within the NATO alliance. The following article is an introduction to the key tenants of C2 as a research program, and presents current themes of C2 research conducted at ILO.

The objective of having a C2 platform at ILO is to establish a distinctive Danish voice for C2 research based on developing our own experimental platform, for dealing with issues concerning doctrinal change. Also, to act as a source of method based knowledge to support the Danish Staff Officers in education and training, for operations in an asymmetric environment. When dealing with issues relative to leadership and organization within the military, you are dealing with military command structures and control systems, NATO defines C2 as “The Organization, Process, Procedures and Systems necessary to allow timely political and military decision-making and to enable military commanders to direct and control military forces.”

However C2 should not be seen as an end in itself, but rather as a means toward creating some value, such as the accomplishment of a mission.  Academic studies in C2 have a slightly broader interpretation than NATO’s formal definition above and see C2 more as an umbrella term that encompasses the concepts, issues, organizations, activities, processes, and systems associated with the NATO definition but also focus on general collaborative and consultative processes that are an inherent part of other sorts of coalition operations.[1]

C2 and leadership as a research platform can be easily be characterized as an applied theoretical and developmental research program that bridges the gap between theory and practice, between the how and the why- or why not, we do things the way we do them.  It is an approach that is intended to build a common language around C2 so that we may better share experience and knowledge where it concerns for example, taking on the challenges of complexity, produced by asymmetric warfare conditions. In terms of military science, it bridges the divide between studies in decision-making, psychology, strategy, operational planning, intelligence, resource management, anthropology, education, training, and the natural sciences, and draws upon the expertise as required.  Furthermore, C2 research can be applied to practical problems, recently illustrating its usefulness in the ongoing Comprehensive Approach (CA) discourse, for evaluating the effect of various proposals for civil-military co-ordination on the kinetic chain of command. Within this current discourse, C2 provides a methodological sound defence of the military’s warfighting effectiveness from overzealous proposals.

The Functions of Command and Control
The word ‘Command’ is not just about who gives the orders, but entails a variety of functions such as establishing intent, or determining the roles, responsibilities, and the relationships. It affects the organisation, the philosophy, the principles, the practices, the procedures, and the systems necessary to allow timely political and military decision-making and to enable military commanders to direct and control military forces.[2]

It is important to note that this new C2 and leadership research platform has two responsibilities with regards to these evaluating these functions. Certainly as an academic research platform it is responsible for relative theoretical research at the international level. Secondly, the C2 research platform is also responsible for applied research at the national and international level for direct use by the military. Primarily, this must be in the form developmental support to Command Staff through education and training, but also concrete operational field support in the form of C2 evaluation teams to help in mission preparation at home, and mission adaption in the field. Therefore by all ‘yardsticks’, C2 & Leadership bridgesthe theory –practice divide in variety of military science fields.

When adopting a C2 approach to supporting, evaluating, or developing doctrinal frameworks, ‘Command’ will encompass several key functions that may related to most organizations and their leadership.

Research Bridge 1: Leadership - Military Strategy & Intelligence
Command Function 1 - Establishing the Intent
This function is probably the most important, as C2 makes no sense without establishing intent, or establishing the goal or objective of the mission. Included in this assessment will be a specific consideration to how one specifies the objective, how the topic of acceptable risks in pursuing the objective is addressed as well as the integration of uncertainty. It is important as the Commands’ evaluative process determines the feasibility of the plan, as the undertaking of infeasible missions is a failure of Command. Key sub-functions include assessing the sense-making capacities including quality of information aspects that include supporting military intelligence organization with regards to maintaining situational awareness.

Therefore a practical side of the C2 research program at ILO is to eventually be in a position to support both Danish (and NATO) command structures, with functional analytical support to Commanders as to how they establish their intent for any given mission. This will also include evaluation support when it comes to maintaining commander flexibility within the operational planning process by monitoring doctrinal, structural, and organizational implications for the decision-making process.  For example what happens to a command decision based on incomplete intelligence due to the time constraints of a synchronization process?  Dealing with issues relative to quality of information, relative to situational awareness, and sense-making capabilities, ties together both decision-making and intelligence processes within Command.

Research Bridge 2: Leadership & Organization - Military Operations and Doctrine
Command Function 2: Determining roles, responsibilities, and relationships
C2 research also acknowledges the existence of more than one individual or entity within the command structure, and thus recognizes that the different roles, delegated responsibilities, and relationships have a direct effect on behavior. This may include promoting, allowing, or constraining behaviors. When researching this function special attention is given to determining the pre-existing environment that has resulted from patterns of interaction within the command structure. By doing so it provides a stable baseline model for evaluating any proposed changes, and iteratively integrating new information into the model for evaluation.

Command Function 3: Establishing rules and constraints
Rules and constraints govern and shape decision-makers within the Command structure and organization. When applying C2 method to this function, it sub-divides both rules and constraints into two categories, the first being ‘fixed’, and the second attributed to the ‘variable’ category. Fixed being rules and constraints attributed to culture (social, organizational, and/or professional.) The ‘variable’ category refers to those rules and constraints attributed to a particular situation.

Command Function 4: Monitoring and assessing the situation and progress
C2 assumes that plans are developed and then executed, and therefore quite naturally assumes that there is a necessity for monitoring and assessing the situation. The importance of this function cannot be overstated when considering the necessity for both synchronization and flexibility within the operational environment at the same time. It will in principle be the impetus for changing roles and responsibilities, or making changes to the rules or constraints.

Research Bridge 3: Leadership & Doctrine – Education & Training
Command Function 5: Leadership Component I
(ability to inspire, motivate, and engender trust)
One of two main reasons why the C2 research platform at the RDDC is placed under ILO, is because of the leadership function of C2 that looks at personal qualities of a leader. It is here ILO already had its main expertise before the field of C2 ever became seriously organized particularly where it concerns psychology and personal development. C2 will continue to build upon that significant database of knowledge where it concerns developing leaders that inspire, motivate, and engender trust.  Particularly where it concerns evaluating the sense-making aspects of Command, that touches on individual characteristics, behaviors, and relationships.

Command Function 6: Leadership Component II (Education and Training)
The second reason why the C2 resides at ILO is the fact when it comes to turning concrete research into support for education and training within the military, there is no better place. Education and training are a vital function of Command – especially where it combines proactively with monitoring and assessing to implement lessons learned quickly.

Research Bridge 4: Leadership & Organization - Resource Management
Command Function 7: Provisioning
When measuring the quality of C2, one of the more traditional areas for evaluation is logistical planning relative to both long and short term intent. Therefore, how effective a resource allocation is in a Command structure or process? From a larger enterprise perspective it is about resource allocation across missions, and has deeper doctrinal implications than if it were from a mission perspective, that focuses on allocating resources across participants.

Table 1 - Current C2 Themes at ILO

Theme 1 Example: Comprehensive Approach (CA)

This strain of current C2 research is intended as a contribution to a growing array of information concerning the Danish initiative known as the Concerted Planning and Action of Civil and Military Activities in International Operations, commonly referred to as the comprehensive approach, or CA.[3] The goals of the initiative were to improve the coordination and planning of both the civilian and military efforts in a mission area with special focus on the civilian element within ‘Theatre,’ while pursuing a more coordinated planning effort to optimize national effort.[4] The central thrust of CA is to create more synergy between the military and non-military resources to maximize the desired effect at all levels of policy and plans, the tactical, the operational, the strategic, and the political-normative.[5] In this regard CA represents a desire for a more effective doctrine when dealing with complex conflicts. [6] However, it is the C2 capacities that provide the backbone for managing doctrine implementation, from the interpretation of political/normative declarations in a particular social environment at the strategic level, through the operational planning, and the final physical execution on the tactical level.[7]Therefore a C2 approach allows for us to evaluate CA proposals vis-à-vis military doctrine.

Theme 2 Example: Effects Based Approach to Operations (EBAO)
The C2 approach allows us to take a focused look inside the operational planning process (OPP) when implementing new doctrine such as EBAO. It allows us to focus on such critical factors such as timeliness. Very important to assessment models as the OPP cycle is determined by the time-space dimensions of the kinetic environment and therefore structures and functions within that process must be responsive to these requirements. Timeliness is affected by the kinetic C2 requirements of the battlespace as well as synchronisation between the OPP and the supporting military intelligence (MI) regime. If there is no synchronisation, proper MI analysis is not completed to support the OPP process, and specifically where it concerns EBAO, effects related analysis quickly becomes a question of how polemic a Commander decision will be - without any method or research to support it. The resulting choice is to base effects analysis on these Staff polemics, or artificially slow down the OPP process at the cost of kinetic realities. Both situations from a warfighting stand point are unacceptable.

Flexibility is another critical factor that C2 method manages for analysis within the OPP. Flexibility as it pertains to Commanders Intent comes from desire to ensure the Commander has just as many, if not more, courses of action available as compared to the enemy commander. The Commander with more courses of action deemed viable, has an advantage in the battlespace.  Furthermore the message to subordinates must not be so methodologically precise that it limits their flexibility, or the synchronisation process so deterministic that it limits flexibility – the result will be trading assurance of self-induced action for assurance of control.  For example, the intention of EBAO is to provide guidance on integrating non-military dimensional analysis within a framework of kinetic requirements for the battlespace - thereby increasing the number of courses of action available. Furthermore, it should also be able to identify mitigation activities to support desired kinetic courses of actions by identifying possible courses of action to mitigate any expected negative effects in non-military dimensions. However overzealous implementation of EBAO may lead to problems with timeliness or synchronisation.

C2 sees synchronisation within the OPP as a necessity to insure a coherent timeline for establishing the rationale and details for all actions, disseminating orders to action, and incorporating methods to track progress status and workflows before the next planning cycle. Also known as the Commanders ‘battle rhythm.’  Synchronisation must strive to be responsive to both the analytical needs of this cycle as well as the actual time and space dimensions of the battlespace, partially dictated by the enemy. Therefore an overzealous application of EBAO may result in incomplete analysis being provided to the OPP – or forcing a battle rhythm that does not match the kinetic realities. C2 provides a methodology for evaluating these relationships within Command functions.

Theme 3 Example: Military Intelligence and “Sense making”
C2 is in itself a product of changes in the nature of warfare, and is a response to the complexities produced by asymmetric warfare that must be managed by the OPP. Intelligence cycles[8] and supporting collection platforms are extremely important to the OPP – they drive it –and in turn- are driven by it.  This dynamic relationship is mirrored in the military by the MI cycle(s) within the OPP. Current MI structures have to begin ‘gearing up’ to provide social, political, and economic intelligence to support the non-military dimensional analysis in the OPP.

Furthermore, where it specifically concerns MI driving the EBAO process there must be a desired end state for denoting the end of both military and non-military operations determined by the political leadership. In order to move towards that end-state, a series of desired effects and sub-effects have to been determined. Effects themselves are the physical and/or behavioural state of a  dimension (political, social, economic, or military) within the conflict environment that result from military or non-military, actions, or sets of actions within the multi-dimensional defined battlespace. Doctrinally, they constitute the move from principles to practices. To move from practices to procedures - actions are required. Actions resulting from the EBAO process and then executed within the battlespace, represent both military and non-military activity directed towards the achievement of a specific effect or effects.

To do all this properly requires a great deal of knowledge concerning the reality in which the actions will take place and methodologically sound approach to predictive analysis. Known as Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (IPB),[9]its purpose is to keep the commander aware of recent, current, and near term events in the battlespace. However EBAO requires a great deal more predictive awareness of the battlespace (PBA)[10] for the commander and it is here the challenges lie in terms of fully exploiting military intelligence organization and method. In short a shift from a focus on descriptive analysis to predictive analysis.[11]This has direct methodological implications for the production of estimates and analysis.

As far as integrating and exploiting the non-military dimensions, the cognitive skills developed in applied social science method are paramount. Specifically, the ability to systematically produce relevant mental models to increase the overall effectiveness of the OPP output is paramount. EBAO inherently places the weight of modeling application on prediction in terms of calculating desired and undesired effects. The most common type of modeling for dealing with prediction, and one of the easiest to work with is iterative modeling based on hypotheses defined relationships. Essentially establishing a baseline hypotheses based on the existing situations, then adding new information to assess how the baseline hypothesis is affected to produce predictions. Applying the C2 approach has indicated that this is the essential methodological minimum to integrating the non-military dimensions into the OPP.

Future Research
Future C2 research will continue to focus on evaluating changes military doctrine affecting leadership and organization with respect to the current period of military transition in the West. It is also expected that the CA discourse will not disappear any time soon, especially while Afghanistan is in play. Over the next two years I believe much focus will lie on the C2 approach itself as we continue to involve a broader spectrum of interested contributors – with a wider range of expertise and solutions, and become better at managing experimentation. At the same time at the RDDC, C2 & Leadership as research platform will offer great opportunities for cooperation across the different institutions with regard to both the theoretical and practical aspects of the platform. For example, exploiting Staff planning exercises for C2 evaluation or doctrine testing has proved to be a very effective laboratory for the evaluation of Command functions. Finally, very important key objective in all of this is to establish a Danish identity within the international forum for C2 research.

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Phister, Paul W. Jr., Timothy Busch, & Igor G. Plonisch, (2004) Joint Synthetic Battlespace: Cornderstone for Predictive Battlespace Awareness., Rome, NY: Air Force Research Laboratory/Information Directorate, 2004

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[1] Czerwinski (1996):121-132.

[2] Albert & Hayes (2006):31-48.

[3] The comprehensive approach is known as the “samtænkningsinitiativ” in Danish.

[4] See Danish Gov Doc, Defence Command Denmark Directive FKODIR Pl. 190-1. For some general background material ser, FKODIR PL 190-1 Bilag 1 & Bilag 2; Forsvarfolig 2005-2009; Jan Top Christiansen’s Chairmans Report from June 20-21 2005 Seminar on CA, hosted by Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence.; For some wider perspectives see Jakobsen (2005); Harboe (2007); Macrae (2007);Ølgaard (2007);  Burlin (2004); Nielsen and Larsen (2007); Holt (2006); Slim (2004); Aaronson (2007).

[5] Fischer & Christensen (2005).

[6] UK MOD Doc. (2005):1-1.

[7] See Mitchell (2004): 10-12. Also see Luttwak, 2001:93-112; and Mitchell (2002):487.

[8] Clark (2004):Ch.1; Herman, (2004): 293-296; Mitchell (2002):486

[9] Phsiter (2004):2

[10] SAB-TR-02-01 (2002)

[11] Mitchell (2002):481-485